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Get the Nutrition Facts

Debunking Myths About the Food We Eat

minute read

Written by Wellness Connections on February 23, 2024
What You Need To Know

AHWC registered dietitians debunk the myth that all fats are inherently unhealthy by highlighting the diverse roles fats play in the body such as insulation, nutrient absorption, and cell function. Additionally,they address another common myth regarding eggs and their supposed contribution to elevated blood cholesterol levels, emphasizing the importance of considering overall dietary patterns and making informed choices for heart health.

When it comes to nutrition, myths often swirl around topics like fat and cholesterol, leading to confusion and misinformation. Fortunately, the registered dietitians at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center are here to unravel some common myths. By shedding light on these topics, they aim to provide clarity and empower individuals to make informed choices for their nutritional health and well-being.


Myth: All fats are unhealthy.

Fact: Fat helps insulate your body, aids your body in absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, and supports cell function. However, not all fats are created equal. Saturated fats and trans fats can have negative impacts on your health, while unsaturated fats offer benefits to heart health. Below is information about each type of fat and its impact on health.

Unsaturated Fat

  • Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Monounsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils, like olive oil and canola oil, avocados, almonds, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Polyunsaturated fats contain omega-3 fatty acids your body cannot make, so you must get them from food sources. Polyunsaturated fats are also found in vegetable oils like canola oil but can also be found in tofu, walnuts and fatty fish, like salmon.

Benefits of consuming unsaturated fats

  • Lowers LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels in your body.
  • Can increase HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels in your body.
  • Reduces inflammation.

Saturated Fat 

  • Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are found primarily in animal products, like red meat, sausage, bacon, and butter. Saturated fat is also found in coconut and palm oil.
  • Saturated fat increases your risk of heart disease.
  • Your body produces all the LDL cholesterol you need. Saturated fat can cause your body to produce more LDL cholesterol, which can increase your risk of heart disease.

Trans Fat

  • Trans fats were created by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. There are also traces of naturally occurring trans fats found in animal products like meat and dairy.
  • Trans fat raises LDL cholesterol levels and lowers HDL cholesterol levels, which increases your risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • In 2015, the FDA determined that trans fats are no longer “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS). Since 2021, manufacturers are no longer allowed to use trans fats in food production. This is a huge step for heart health and is estimated to prevent thousands of heart attacks and deaths each year.

Recommendations to Eat More Unsaturated Fat and Less Saturated Fat 

  • Choose lean protein like chicken, turkey, or 90% lean ground beef.
  • Compare food labels when you shop: Look for foods with 5% Daily Value or less of saturated fat.
  • Consume fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, and trout at least twice per week.
  • Use olive oil in place of butter when cooking.
  • Add avocado to salads and sandwiches.
  • Eat nuts and seeds as a snack.

Myth: Eating eggs will increase blood cholesterol levels.

Fact: Dietary cholesterol’s impact on blood cholesterol levels is not a black-and-white issue.

Early studies on high blood cholesterol levels and dietAdobeStock_412792339 warned against eating foods high in dietary cholesterol like eggs. However, recent studies suggest the relationship between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels is weak. The foods high in cholesterol studied were also high in saturated fat, which has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease. It is believed the saturated fat in these foods has a stronger impact on blood cholesterol than dietary cholesterol alone. Foods high in dietary cholesterol and low in saturated fat like eggs and shellfish also contain beneficial nutrients. Eggs are a good source of protein and contain choline, vitamin D, and vitamin A. In conclusion, the focus should be on adopting a healthy eating pattern, including eating more fruits and vegetables, consuming whole grains, and replacing foods high in saturated fat with foods high in unsaturated fat. If you have high cholesterol, talk with your healthcare provider for more personalized recommendations.


About Community Nutrition Programs at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center

The AHWC Community Nutrition Programs offers a range of culinary services, cooking classes, and nutrition education for the CU Anschutz Medical Campus community. To learn more about Community Nutrition Services or to sign up for in-person and virtual cooking classes and demos please visit our website at anschutzwellness.com.